Many Victorians are finding it increasingly harder to find affordable housing. Currently, on any given day in Victoria, approximately 25,000 people are sleeping rough or living in emergency or unsafe accommodation.
This is not simply the result of too few affordable homes. Many people experiencing housing stress and homelessness are the victims of family violence or family breakdown or they are people experiencing mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse or unemployment.
We are not prepared to avoid the problems associated with affordable housing, or let a generation miss out on the benefits of having a home. We’re taking the lead by making homes and housing more accessible through Homes for Victorians.
Homes for Victorians
This initiative is the most comprehensive reform of the housing sector in Victoria’s history.
It delivers both more and better quality housing, that meets the needs of tenants and is delivered as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.
Homes for Victorians includes the development of around 6,000 social housing dwellings. This includes new builds, subsidised rentals and the renewal of up to 2,500 outdated public housing dwellings.
Homes for Victorians also includes:
- $152 million housing blitz, to help women and children escaping family violence access safe accommodation
- $1 billion Social Housing Growth Fund, to provide a pipeline of projects to deliver more social and affordable housing
- $1.1 billion package of low cost loans and government guarantees, to lower the cost of financing and develop the financial capacity of the sector
- The renewal of 11 walk-up estates in Melbourne, replacing more than 1,800 ageing properties, through the Public Housing Renewal Program
Additionally, Homes for Victorians has the largest response to homelessness in the past decade, including:
- $109 million homelessness package to assist 19,000 people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless
- $45.5 million Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Plan to reduce the incidence and impacts of rough sleeping across Victoria.
How you can help
Victorians care deeply about supporting people experiencing homelessness, understanding that everyone needs a place to call home.
Help comes in many forms and there are many things you can do to help.
While well intentioned, some gestures of goodwill can complicate the work of support agencies or introduce risks which may worsen someone’s circumstances. Find out more about homelessness and see the person in front of you, not the stereotype.
Some things you can do to help include:
- Respect - People experiencing homelessness deserve the same respect and courtesy as us all. Consider what we share in common including the wish for a safe and secure home.
- Educate - Look at the factors that contribute to homelessness and help break the myths and misconceptions in your community.
- Greet - If you feel comfortable, a simple gesture such as saying hello can go a long way to breaking down stigma and social isolation.
- Volunteer - Offering your time and skills to specialist homelessness services not only helps others but improves your own wellbeing.
- Donate - Giving goods or money to specialist housing and homelessness agencies ensures people in need receive the right support at the right time.
If you or someone you know is homeless or at risk of homelessness - phone the 24-hour statewide toll free number on 1800 825 955 to speak with a housing and support worker. The 1800 number will direct your call to a service closest to you, or if the call is outside business hours, it will be directed to Salvation Army Crisis Services.
Also, you can let the City of Melbourne know if you have concerns about the welfare of someone who is sleeping rough in the CBD. For more information, see Homelessness on the City of Melbourne website.
If someone is seriously injured or in need of urgent medical help, call 000.
Homelessness - how you can help page on the Council to homeless persons website.
Homelessness - how you can help page on the City of Melbourne website.
Agency contacts across Victoria are available on the Getting help page of the Services website.
Actions and outcomes
Announced in April 2016, the Family Violence Housing Blitz expanded access to services for people in crisis by increasing investment in housing and homelessness support across Victoria.
Action: Accommodation for the Homeless – $25 million for construction of 180 new units and upgrades of existing crisis accommodation.
Outcome: McAuley House opened in November 2016, with 25 beds. Progress is underway at the Vincent Care (Ozanam House), Hope St refuge and Melbourne City Mission refuge projects.
Action: Refuge redevelopment – $21 million to redevelop existing refuges to the new core and cluster model, and provide 24 hour staffing at up to six refuges.
Outcome: Design of four refuges completed. Three tendered, with construction about to commence and completion expected December 2018. Fourth at tender, with completion expected May 2019.
Action: Rapid housing assistance – $50 million to deliver 184 new social housing properties and head lease up to 124 dwellings.
Outcome: Over 300 households impacted by family violence have been provided both medium term and long-term housing responses that suit their needs.
Action: Private rental assistance – $16 million to provide support access to private rental.
Outcome: Over 1,800 people have been supported to access, or sustain private rental accommodation.
Action: Flexible support packages – $40 million to meet the individual needs of victims of family violence, including support to stay safe at home.
Outcome: Since September 2016, over 10,400 flexible support packages have been provided to meet the needs of individual victim survivors. Over 60 per cent included housing-related assistance.
The Social Housing Pipeline will increase the number of social housing properties on vacant or under-used land, currently owned by the Director of Housing.
Action: The first 52 vacant parcels of land have been identified.
Outcome: These 52 parcels of land will create more than 100 homes.
Our response to homelessness ensures that we intervene early and provide targeted support to help people get back on their feet.
Action: A package of initiatives will help 19,000 people at risk of experiencing homelessness over the next five years.
Outcome: $10.1 million towards housing support for young people. Also, more than $60 million to provide new and improved accommodation for those in need. Investment of remaining funding is underway.
VAGO Audit Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Plan
The Victorian Government’s $45.5 million Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Plan (HRSAP) is a long-term strategy to reduce the incidence and impacts of homelessness in Victoria.
The Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) has completed a performance audit of HRSAP - Victoria’s Homelessness Response and made 13 recommendations.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) welcomes and accepts all of VAGO’s recommendations and has developed an action plan to improve homelessness program design and delivery and client outcomes.
A number of VAGO’s recommendations are already being embedded into new programs and initiatives as part of the Victorian Government’s COVID-19 housing and homelessness response.
Ongoing engagement with the housing and homelessness sector, local service providers and clients will strengthen efforts to break the cycle of homelessness in Victoria.
To read the department’s action plan and response to Victoria’s Homelessness Response audit, visit www.audit.vic.gov.au/report/victorias-homelessness-response.